§ Captain Boldero
was anxious to obtain some information from the right hon. First Lord of the Admiralty, on a matter, as it appeared to him, of great public importance. He had just come up to town from Portsmouth, where he had seen a very large fleet, and he was anxious to know from the proper quarter for what object that fleet was thus collected. [Laughter.] He really saw nothing laughable in the matter, and was surprised that a question of great public interest, not only in a financial point of view, but as it bore upon the internal and external relations of the country, should be attempted to be got rid of in this way, with such unbecoming levity. It was the largest fleet that had been collected at Portsmouth for the last sixteen years, and evidently could only have been collected at great expense to the country. He wished to know what was its object? Was it to wage war against a foreign Power, or was it for the purpose of carrying on some naval experiment? In either case explanation was necessary—the rather, as the King's Speech stated that we were at peace with all the world.
Sir J. Graham,
in answering the hon. Member, begged to say, first, that the fleet to which he alluded was not assem- 372 bled for the purpose of hostile aggression upon any foreign power; and, in the second place, was not assembled for the mere purpose of experiments in naval science. The fact was, that the necessary evolutions in naval warfare required a considerable deal of preliminary practice, and all that was intended by the assembling of the fleet at Spit head was, to take advantage of the summer-months in practising those evolutions. The number of ships assembled was seven sail of the Line, with frigates and sloops.